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Roughly a year ago, The Digital Antiquarian brought us this insightful article dedicated to New World Computing's original Heroes of Might and Magic game. And now, we get its direct follow-up that takes a good look at Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars, its Price of Loyalty expansion and even some of its custom scenarios.
In the usual Digital Antiquarian fashion, we're told all about how the game came to be, what makes it unique, how it differs from its predecessor, and how it was received at the time of its release.
Here's a little something to get you started:
Ironically, the aspects of Heroes I that people seemed to appreciate most of all were those that caused it to most resemble the Might and Magic CRPGs, whose name it had borrowed more for marketing purposes than out of any earnest belief that it was some sort of continuation of that line. Strategy designers at this stage were still in the process of learning how the inclusion of individuals with CRPG-like names and statistics, plus a CRPG-like opportunity to level them up as they gained experience, could allow an often impersonal-feeling style of game to forge a closer emotional connection with its players. The premier examples before Heroes I were X-COM, which had the uncanny ability to make the player’s squad of grizzled alien-fighting soldiers feel like family, and Master of Magic, whose own fantasy heroes proved to be so memorable that they almost stole the show, much to the surprise of that game’s designer. Likewise, Jon Van Caneghem had never intended for the up to eight heroes you can recruit to your cause in Heroes of Might and Magic to fill as big a place in players’ hearts as they did. He originally thought he was making “a pure strategy game that was meant to play and feel like chess.” But a rudimentary leveling system along with names and character portraits for the heroes, all borrowed to some extent from his even earlier strategy game King’s Bounty, sneaked in anyway, and gamers loved it. The wise course was clearly to double down on the heroes in Heroes II.